Medicine, although covers the same basics at all universities, differs in the way in which it is taught from one university to the next. This can make it a difficult decision when deciding on a medical school to spend 5 years at. As such, I am using this blog in part 1 and 2 to showcase the way medicine works at the University of Manchester….
PBL marks the theme for the weeks learning – the concept of which the case for that week is based on, is the same concept that we will cover in all our classes during the time this case runs for.
At UoM PBL opens on a Monday and closes on a Friday in first year. We have a PBL case book with all the cases for a semester in and this reads like a cross between a ‘story’ and a patient history. We are given all the necessary details which a doctor would require upon examination in the ED or GP surgery, in addition to further details including those relating to socioeconomic background, family and other features which are deemed important enough to include as a cue.
For each case we nominate a chair and a scribe whom will guide the sessions to ensure we stay on track and that everyone contributes.
From this ‘story’ we work as a group of 12 with a facilitator to piece together and come up with a Learning Agenda (LA). This consists of a series of questions which we want to answer during the week – we cover topics such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, evidence-based medicine, ethics, medical law and BSS (Behavioural and Social Science). The information we require to complete the LA will come from lectures we have during that week, textbooks, online resources and resources which are provided from the medical school.
As we come back together as a PBL group on a Friday, we are able to work through the LA to bounce information and ideas off each other as a means to ensure we fully understand all the concepts of the weeks learning.
Our timetable for lectures is the same week-in-week-out, with the only difference being the content covered and lecturer delivering such. They cover the necessary and important information that we are required to understand as medical students within the theme of the week and at our level.
Each lecture lasts around 1 hour, and they are (mostly always) recorded so that we have the chance to go back and re-watch/listen in our own time, if we didn’t quite understand something – a great feature!!
Occasionally, depending on the anatomy for the week, we may have a histology lecture in which we learn the basics of identifying particular histological specimens based on their specific features.
Each week as a first year medical student at UoM we have one anatomy class which lasts 2 hours. We cover learning outcomes which are based on (when possible) the PBL case for the week. This allows us to further our understanding of anatomical concepts so that we can use this to aid with our knowledge of what is normal and what happens during disease.
At the end of a PBL case week, we are provided with an anatomy workbook for the following week which we must work through prior to our anatomy session. This is to ensure we are making the most of our time in the anatomy class by adding to our understanding rather than learning a concept from scratch. Personally, I create my own revision guides in notebooks from this so that I always have something to go back to during my time at medical school. I start with ‘teachmeanatomy.info’ to provide the basics to a topic, before furthering my knowledge using textbooks such as ‘Gray’s Anatomy for Students’ and ‘Netter’s Anatomy Colouring Book’.
We work in our PBL groups, with each group having one anatomy demonstrator and cadaver. The anatomy demonstrators are practicing junior doctors who have decided to take some time out and teach for a year – they are highly knowledgeable and this makes for very useful sessions in the DR (dissection room). The demonstrators are provided with a guide which follows the same topics as those in our student anatomy workbook, and as such we progress through this within the allocated time by use of our cadaver, prosections and plastic models.
We are extremely fortunate at UoM to have cadavers to work alongside during our anatomy classes – these are bodies which have been donated by the public following death as a means to provide a learning platform for future doctors. They are the most useful aspect of anatomy classes and without such I am convinced our learning would suffer. It is an amazing resource to have, and I will be forever grateful to the donors and their families.
During the session in the DR, we have a mixture of teaching by the demonstrator, dissections on the cadaver and quizzes. We are expected to know the basics of the content before arriving and use the session as a means to add to such and ask questions we have from our own learning.
Following the anatomy class and at the end of the PBL case (Friday at 5pm), we have an anatomy wrap up released to us which serves as a online test. It is formative and hence for our own satisfaction, but it is very useful as a way to work out the aspects which need more revision time. Once released, these work books remain open all the time and so can be used during periods of revision near to exams to re-check knowledge.
Look out for part 2 of this blog ‘1st Year Medicine at the University of Manchester’!!